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As we age, bone strength decreases and can cause fractures in the spine called vertebral compression fractures. A vertebral compression fracture occurs when too much pressure is placed on a weakened vertebrae, and the front of it cracks and loses height. They can result from a fall or doing everyday things such as reaching, coughing, or sneezing. In many cases, people get better with conservative treatment such as rest, medication, or a brace. If you are suffering from severe back pain from a recent fracture that is not responding to non-surgical treatment, your doctor may recommend kyphoplasty. This minimally-invasive procedure repairs a vertebral compression fracture. It helps restore the spine’s natural shape and some patients experience rapid pain relief after the procedure.

Before the procedure, you are anesthetized. The physician guides a needle through the skin of your back and into your fractured vertebrae. A special x-ray device called a fluoroscope helps the physician position the needle. A balloon device is placed into the vertebrae through the needle. The physician inflates this balloon to expand the fractured bone. When the balloon is deflated, it leaves a cavity in the middle of the vertebral body. Once the balloon is removed, the physician injects bone cement through the needle. This cement fills the cavity and hardens inside the vertebral body, stabilizing the fracture.